Entries in Peter Svidler (37)
As already reported, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had already clinched match victory over Peter Svidler with one classical game yet to play; that game has been played and was drawn.
Meanwhile, the British Championship is underway. Nigel Short and Luke McShane aren't playing, but Michael Adams, David Howell, and Gawain Jones are and make for a strong set of headliners. Round 6 of 11 is underway, and entering the round Howell led with 4.5 points. Six players, including Adams and Jones - who has White against Howell - are half a point behind.
The Karpov Poikovsky tournament is even stronger, a 10-player round robin whose field includes three players rated over 2700 and most of the rest (maybe even all of the rest) have been over 2700 as well. Round 7 (of 9) is almost finished, and Anton Korobov leads with 4.5 points. Dmitry Andreikin, Maxim Matlakov, and Dmitry Jakovenko have 4 points apiece, while Radoslaw Wojtaszek has 3.5 points but is still playing. He has been pressing against Igor Kovalenko, but the game looks overwhelmingly likely to finish in a draw.
There's still a round to go, but Maxime Vachier-Lagrave has clinched match victory against Peter Svidler. He won the rapid portion 2.5-1.5, and with a game to go leads the classical stage 2.5-.5. The classical games count double, but of course it wouldn't matter at this point if they counted 100 times more than the rapid games.
There's a nice report on the match here, and it also notes that MVL's rating is (rounded up) 2820! The '90s generation has taken over, led by those actually born in the year 1990.
The Russian Club Championship started on Sunday, May 1 and continues through May 10. Among the heavy hitters who have played so far there's Sergey Karjakin, Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler - to include only the players over 2750 - and Vladimir Kramnik is supposed to jump in at some point as well.
On Wednesday, Ding Liren and Wesley So will begin a four-game match in China. (Or maybe there will be four classical games and some additional rapid and/or blitz games. All I know thus far is the very little given in the "Future Events" section of this page. Further details would be appreciated.)
Here's an interview with Peter Svidler. It's not bad, but a good part of the fun is seeing the link to a 1989 video where you can see him and Kramnik as very young teenagers.
The Candidates' Tournament starts very soon - Friday - so it's time for previews, interviews, and whatever else we can find to whet your appetite. For now, here's an interview with the ever loquacious and articulate Peter Svidler.
Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler played in epic match in the final of the World Cup, won by the former 6-4 without a single drawn in the ten games. The players gave long interviews to Vladimir Barsky of the chess magazine 64, and it has been translated by Colin McGourty over on chess24. Here is part 1.
The 2015 World Cup came to a madcap conclusion after six crazy tiebreak games, all of them decisive, and after a series of topsy-turvy games the last man standing was Sergey Karjakin. Both he and Peter Svidler have qualified for next year's Candidates' tournament, but it was Karjakin who secured the title of World Cup Champion and the extra $40,000 that went with it. He won $120,000 to Svidler's $80,000, and both will be able to afford some quality help as they try next year to qualify for a match with Magnus Carlsen.
The tiebreak match was every bit as crazy as the classical match (or rather, the classical portion of the match). Both players won must-win games, and knowing what happened in the preceding game or even who came out of the opening better off told one almost nothing about what would happen by the game's end. Let's give a quick recap of the games.
In game 1 (game 5 overall), the first of the 25' + 10" contests, Karjakin had White and played an unusual line of the English. He may have obtained a slight edge at first, but Svidler outplayed him and managed to achieve all his strategic aims. Perhaps he was never quite winning, but he was much better for a very long time. He was never in danger until he missed 42.Ng4, and even then things weren't so bad for a while. Finally, though, they reached an opposite-colored bishop ending where Karjakin didn't seem to have any real winning chances, but he managed to make progress. He was a little careless about it and gave Svidler three chances to find a blow that would have put Karjakin on his heels trying to find the draw, but finally White put a stop to the idea. After 79 moves the last critical moment of the game appeared. Karjakin had made as much progress as he possibly could "for free", while Svidler was at his last line of defense. Unfortunately for him, Karjakin had, and found, 80.d5!!, and that won the game.
Svidler had lost three games in a row by this point, one he was winning outright (game 3) and one (this one, game 5 overall) where he was much better for a very long time. Now it was his turn to have to win to stay in the match, and despite all the discouragement he must have felt by this point he came through in spades, winning a remarkably clean game with White in a King's Indian Attack. Somehow the Svidler of the first two and 9/10 games had returned, and it was match on once again.
Games 3 and 4 of the tiebreak (7 & 8 overall) were with the 10' + 10" time control, and this time Karjakin faltered with White. His attempt to avoid an inferior sort of Modern Benoni led to something worse, and things just snowballed from there. Karjakin was already losing when he played 23.Rxc4?, but that cost him a piece to an elementary tactic. The game went on a while longer, probably so Karjakin could get mentally prepared for the next game, but there was never any doubt as to the result over the course of the remaining moves.
So once again Svidler had White in a game where he only needed to draw, and once again...he failed to score. He chose a differet anti-Sicilian line than he did in game 3, but here too it wound up in a sort of Maroczy Bind. Karjakin apparently surprised him somewhere, because Svidler played hesitatingly and then overreacted and overreached on the queenside. After 15 moves Svidler was losing a pawn, after 23 moves he was losing a second pawn, and after 27 moves he resigned. A disaster for Svidler, but good nerves by Karjakin, who had saved his third "match point".
On to the blitz: 5' + 3". Yet again Karjakin started with the white pieces, and this time there was something new. Karjakin played 1.e4 for a change, and Svidler headed for his beloved Marshall. Karjakin went all the way into the rabbit hole, but even though they went into a main line he was somehow unprepared and played a terrible novelty on move 18, Bc2. Svidler had plenty of time, having gained almost 40 seconds on the clock by this point, and he used two or three minutes trying to figure out what to do against this new move. It's clear from his facial expressions that he figured it out...a few seconds after making the wrong move. Black could have played 18...Nxc3, with a decisive advantage. A less tired Svidler would have spotted this (for that matter, a less tired Karjakin probably would have seen it as well before playing 18.Bc2), but instead he played 18...b4, which was a bad move in its own right in addition to missing a huge opportunity. A few moves later Karjakin could have been winning, but even with his imprecise 24th move he maintained a significant advantage.
Unfortunately for Svidler, his horrors had not yet come to an end. Bit by bit he fought back, only to make a serious error on move 28. Karjakin could have replied to 28...Bh5 with 29.g4, with a winning advantage, but instead he played 29.Rb1??, allowing several winning rejoinders. Svidler's wasn't the best, but it was good enough for a winning advantage. Once again it was time for Karjakin to demonstrate his resilience, and while Svidler maintained his advantage over the next dozen or so moves he didn't make much progress. He did have an advantage on the clock, but having more time and more material won't rescue you when you blunder a rook, as he did. He simply left his rook en prise on b8, Karjakin took it, and Svidler's anguish was palpable. You will rarely see a player more distraught than Svidler was, but there was still another game to play, one more chance for a comeback.
With White Svidler managed to achieve a serious, possibly winning advantage. This time around there weren't any blunders that gave the game away; it was just the slow but steady drip of inaccuracies that allowed Karjakin to equalize, and at the end even win when Svidler was forced to gamble to avoid a draw. Svidler found a very nice trick at the end of the game that could have won, but Karjakin found the right response and Svidler had to resign. A very bitter end for Svidler, who was winning or nearly winning in games 3, 5, 9 and 10 and lost them all.
So Karjakin won the tiebreak 4-2 and the match by the overall score of 6-4. (The games are here, with my comments.) Incredibly, both players are headed to Berlin at the end of the week for the World Rapid & Blitz Championships. They might be so tired by now that I would stand a decent chance against them, but hopefully they will recover well enough to play near enough to full strength to avoid a catastrophe. One final note about the event. At the end of the press conference Sergey Karjakin mentioned that he had been given some advice by Sarkhan Gashimov, the brother of the late super-GM Vugar Gashimov and a talented chess player in his own right. He also recounted his friendship with Vugar and that the dying Vugar had told him that from now on he, Karjakin, had to play for the both of them. It was a moving moment and a nice gesture to the Azeris, as Gashimov was one of their own. We shall see next March whether he, or Svidler, can take a further step towards the world championship when the Candidates' tournament takes place.
If Peter Svidler manages to bounce back from this second straight loss to win the 2015 World Cup in tomorrow's tiebreaks, I will be shocked and my admiration for his resilience will know no bounds. If I had to bet, though, I would lay long odds against his making a comeback - very few people can recover from such a collapse. Anatoly Karpov did it (against Viktor Korchnoi in 1978), Garry Kasparov did it (more than once, against Karpov in their World Championship matches, for example in 1986 when he lost three in a row near the end), and...no one else comes to mind.
I don't know if Svidler has a second - someone who is giving him advice, as opposed to analysts who are helping him with his theoretical preparation - but it's hard to believe that some grizzled old pro would have suggested he choose the line he played against Karjakin today. The problem wasn't that it was risky in a Mikhail Tal or Alexander Morozevich kind of way; just the opposite. Black takes a passive position with no counter-chances at all, hoping to neutralize White's edge and eventually eke out a draw. Karjakin followed standard theory and found a nice 13th move, and he already stood clearly better.
From here Svidler started playing well, and by the time of his 28th move he was still worse and still without any winning prospects, but most of White's advantage was gone. Unfortunately, he came up with the plan of putting all his kingside pawns on dark squares, which paved the way for White's king to penetrate. Instead of this Svidler should have tried something more active and combative, like 28...f5 or later 37...f5, and then on move 44...d5 was his last best chance to save the game. After 44...Re8? 45.g3 Ne6+ 46.Bxe6 Rxe6 47.Kd5 White's king was in, and he only needed the precise 51.Rf4! to seal the deal.
So Karjakin has received a third straight match "miracle", and tomorrow's tiebreaks will give him the chance to complete the comeback. A remarkable achievement. We'll see what happens soon; for now, here's my analysis of today's game.
Update: I've revised the analysis for two reasons. First, Jan Gustafsson's video analysis brought up some interesting points worth mentioning; second, the game score was wrong (DGT's bad design and an inattentive/lazy arbiter error, as usual) undid the final move, 57.Ke6. The link is in the previous paragraph, with updates marked as such.